Last week I made the journey to Dublin from Barcelona.
Now since I only had one afternoon in Dublin, I started sightseeing straight away, with a self-guided walking tour of Dublin. 😀
Sightseeing in Dublin
Dublin was founded by Vikings, and is now the capital of the Republic of Ireland. It has the youngest population in Europe as well, with over half the citizens being under 25! Not sure if it’s by coincidence then that the city has almost 700 pubs, and the legal drinking age is 18! Hah! 😜
Many of these nightlife hot spots can be found in the Temple Bar district, a colorful bohemian quarter, which also retains its old-world charm.
Don’t get the wrong impression though. Although the city has a popular pub scene, it’s equally recognized for its world renowned university, Trinity College.
The college is the first established and the most prestigious university in the country. Its library also contains one of the finest manuscripts of the New Testament, the Book of Kells.
Another famous landmark in Dublin is the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, named after the patron saint, Patrick, who was credited with converting Ireland to Christianity in the 400s AD.
Now there are many unique facts and legends behind St. Patrick, including the fact that he’s not actually Irish, but was brought here as a slave, and apparently drove all the snakes out of Ireland. 🐍 Even more bizarre, now-a-days we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by getting blitzed on the anniversary of his death, March 17th, but up until 1970s, it was a dry holiday! 😮❌🍺
Side note: attractions like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College library charge around 8-11 USD to enter, but are free and just as pretty to view from the outside. 🙂
Now one of the most interesting things I found while wandering was a statue of a homeless Jesus outside the Christ Church. It is difficult to discern the character until you see the holes in the feet. The statue is intended to make passerbys reflect on the indignity of being oppressed.
Now, another must-see historical attraction in the city is Dublin Castle, since it represents the fact that, up until 1921, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom.
Now aside from those historical sites, I loved just admiring the old brick buildings with bright red and blue doors that popped in this hazy, rainy weather.
During my visit, the weather in Dublin was wet and windy, and as I marched along the sidewalks with my umbrella, attempting not to get my bag wet, it seemed that nobody else cared about the drops of rain pelting them in the face! Hah!😜I guess, on the bright side, it makes everything here so beautiful and green!
Anyway, after gallivanting around the city for a few hours, I made my way to the Guinness Storehouse.
Guinness Storehouse Tour
The Guinness Storehouse is located at the St. James Gate Brewery, where over 3 million pints of Guinness are brewed each day!
The mastermind behind this magic brew is Arthur Guinness. Back in mid 18th century, having such confidence in his brews, Arthur signed a 9,000 year lease of the brewery! 😮
Now the Guinness Storehouse is definitely not pint-sized! 😜 It actually consists of seven different levels and I easily spent over two hours here!
In the first few floors, I took a tour to learn about the process of brewing Guinness.Like most beers, Guinness has four essential ingredients: hops, barley, yeast and water.
At St. James Gate Brewery in particular, they use a whopping 100,000 tons of barley per year.
Additionally though, Guinness is infused with nitrogen, which balances out the flavors and gives it such a smooth taste. They also roast their barley, which gives it a unique caramalized taste.
From there I learned how to properly pour and drink Guinness.
Now to properly taste the brew, it’s best to inhale, take in some of the beer, let it sit on your palate for a few seconds, and exhale as you swallow. This helps you appreciate all of the caramel notes. Yum! 😀Interestingly enough, the stout doesn’t travel well and is best enjoyed in Ireland. That being said, it hasn’t stopped them from exporting to over 150 countries around the globe! 😮🍺✈️🌎
Aside from the educational aspect of the tour, I really enjoyed viewing the vintage advertisements found around the storehouse. ❤
Anyway, with the tour ticket, you’re also able to enjoy a complimentary pint of Guinness at one of their three on-site bars.I chose to enjoy mine at the rooftop Gravity Bar, which offers views over the entire city of Dublin. They even had some Irish flag colored lights set out to illuminate the room.
While enjoying my pint, I chatted with a family from New York who was visiting their son during his study abroad semester in Ireland.
Cost: Tickets are reserved in advance on their website. Cost ranges between 17-25 Euro depending on your age and the time of day.
The next day I took a full-day tour to the Cliffs of Moher with Paddywagon Tours.
Day Tour: Cliffs of Moher and Western Ireland
During the tour I sat with a girl originally from Macedonia. She was visiting with her family after finishing law school in Australia.Our guide for the day was Valentine, who was a hoot and a handful, all wrapped in one. As we left Dublin, we drove past the River Liffey, and he joked that it was got its color from all the Irish men peeing in it after a night of drinking Guinness at the pub. Hah! 😜Anyway, our first stop of the day was to Kinvarra, a sea port village near Galway in Western Ireland.This area is home to a few thatched roof houses, which are iconic of Ireland, but a rarity in these days.
Here is where we also learned about the Irish slang word, craic. Craic is the term for fun here, and our guide considers himself somewhat of a craic dealer. 😜
The Irish love to joke around, and to teach us firsthand about this craic, our tour guide played a joke on an unsuspecting couple. To do so, we slowly rode our gigantic 60-seat tour bus in front of a castle we were to visit and nonchalantly asked the couple, “Excuse me! Could you tell me where to find Dunguaire Castle?” 😜
The couple looked confused, glanced at the sign and the giant castle beside us, and said, “Ummm, it’s right there, lad.” The tour guide, trying to contain his laughter, replied, “Ah! Thank you! We’ve been driving around in circles for hours trying to find it!” Hah! 😜 Now that was good Craic. 😉
From there we drove through the Burren of Western Ireland. This area is covered in farmland, with sheep and cattle lazily grazing in the fields. The plot lines here are marked with stones, since the area is made of mostly limestone sediment.
I also noticed this sign on our drive, which is a variant of yield. Interesting! 🤔Now, to get a better look at the karst limestone landscape of the area, our guide stopped at these mini cliffs, which are about 100 ft high, and offer an impressive view over Galway Bay. I used the word mini, since our next stop was the gigantic Cliffs of Moher. Compared to the mini cliffs, these rise about 650 feet tall, with a sheer drop off into the Atlantic Ocean.They were formed over 300 million years ago, and have been recognized by UNESCO as a world-renowned geopark and a protected area for sea birds that nest along these rocks. Now the weather conditions upon entering the site were quite windy and wet. Our guide mentioned though, that the worst kind of weather is fog, and we were lucky enough to actually see the cliffs.
The cliffs were undoubtedly magnificent, but to view them, I had make several mini trips. I would try to run out there, battle the elements, take a few pictures, and then head back to the visitor center to warm up.
Fortunately, I survived the visit, but my umbrella was not so lucky. She flipped inside out with a big gust, and the springs scattered across the pavement. R.I.P. my poor brolly 😥
Anyway, the last stop of the day was Bunratty Castle. It was located near a restaurant and shopping center, which gave us a chance to warm up and do some souvenir shopping.
Cost: The full-day tour from Dublin cost 40 Euro, which included transportation, guide, and all entrance fees
Later that evening, upon returning to Dublin, I went to The Celt Pub with my old Russian friend, whom I met last summer while climbing a volcano in Guatemala. He now lives and works in Dublin.
It was great to catch up with him and listen to some traditional Irish music to boot. The bar atmosphere was quaint and cozy, which is everything that I had hoped to find at a pub in Ireland. The walls were lined with dark wooden bookshelves, brimming with classic novels. They had Jameson bottles as candle holders, where the wax slowly melted down the bottle to give off some dim mood lighting. And as for the live band, they had a guitarist, drummer and a flutist. I even found this comical ad on their wall about flutes.
Anyway, the band played classics Irish songs, like The Wild Rover and Whiskey in the Jar. I took a few video clips for you all to enjoy. 🙂
Overall, it was the perfect way to end my night in Dublin. 🍺🎵
To get to Dublin from the airport and vice versa, I took bus #16 (bus #41 works too). They both have drop-off points in the city center, and are the most cost-effective option at 3 Euros and 30 cents per ride.
Where to Stay:
While in Dublin, I stayed at the International Irish Youth Hostel.
I found the facilities clean, orderly, and then even had a complimentary breakfast in their on-site renovated church restaurant.
Cost: 18 Euro per night, which includes linens and free breakfast (I also had to purchase a different plug for 4 Euro, since Ireland uses a different socket than the rest of Europe)
Anyway, stay tuned to hear all about my last day in Ireland. Until then! 😀